- Mum of 2, suffering my own mental health issues, I began to write this blog as a way to release feelings and emotions. At 13 my daughter was terribly bullied which has led to her having serious mental health problems of her own. She is now 16. I wanted to document our journey and hopefully be able to look back and see how far we have come.
Friday, 22 May 2015
I've been thinking about this blog a lot recently and wondering if I would ever share it with Emily. She is doing so well and I am incredibly proud of all her achievments. Eventually as the months passed she found enough confidence for a few school friendships and things definitely improved after that. Some people had ridiculed her for her honesty about the problems she faced and continues to face. Finally she found friends who recognised that she should be admired for her determination and caring, honest nature.
There was a time when I didn't recognise the child in front of me. She was not my Emily, her illness tore away the confidence, the truthfulness and the strong bond we had once had. It could easily have taken her life.
Imagine how I feel now. I am the mother of a daughter who has made me prouder than I ever thought possible. She will alway have her illness but, with medication, therapy, support and her own will to succeed, she has pulled herself up, fought through all the crap and emerged at the other end.
Currently undertaking the GSCE's I thought may never be taken, she is focused on what she needs to do and where she wants to be. Emily has worked constantly to catch up on the studies she missed through the years in the wilderness. I've never needed to coax her, she has been driven and she has been high acheiving.
Neither Emily or myself are cured. We both still take our meds each day, we cry on each other on bad days or weeks. There are days I wish I wasn't here. Emily even now still sees people that others do not. This has recently been diagnosed as part of her anxiety disorder. She is keenly working through CBT to find ways to work through such situations.
The reason I started this blog was so we could see our journey and so could others who might be facing similar circumstances could look in too.
Our journey will continue, but I hope the bumpiest part of the road is in the past. If you are reading this, thinking things will never change, they can. Remember to get help if you need it. To travel this road you need others to steady you when you fall. You need the tools to make each day a tiny bit better. You need love and kind words and friendship. Most of all you need to know you are worth it but you need to fight.
To Emily, if you ever do read this. I love you. I am so proud of you there really are no words to express it properly. If my posts were ever negative or self obsessed I am sorry, this was my outlet.
I am thankful every day I look at you Emily, that you are my daughter and that we are closer now than ever before. You will take the lessons learned at a too young age and you will use them well, supporting not only yourself, but those around you.
Emily, my daughter, my best friend.
Friday, 4 October 2013
Emily has made enormous steps forward. From the start of the new term she has been back full time. There have been ups and downs, but I remind myself that all teens have these regardless. In a few short weeks her confidence has grown. She will now speak in class, join in discussions and has put her name forward to be an anti bullying ambassador. She is showing a high standard of work again and is receiving good marks. I am so very proud of her and I think she is of herself.
For me, life goes on. I am currently supporting an 18 year old at work who has comlex mental health problems. When others don't know how to handle mental illness, they turn to me and I can not let them down. This, however, does impact on my own wellbeing.
Its my own fault, I have taken on too much. Work, my family, supporting others in need and now by joining the committee for a charity I hold dear to my heart. I sit doing work from home and all around me there is overdue housework screaming at me.
My lack of wellbeing has been most acute these last few days, and during these times I find it hard to talk. This morning I wrote a little ditty and thought it summed things up.
The pain I feel is deep inside,
locked away and trying to hide
The sad thing is there's no escape
from the demons with carnage in their wake
Today i'll struggle, tommorow too
You don't see it's hidden from view
The exhaustion of facing each new day,
makes me want to slip away
Over dramatic this may sound,
but my sanity can not be found
I do not want to feel this way,
despite what people often say
The fight goes on, for now at least
Be quiet you multi headed beast
My children still need their mother,
for them there can be no other
I can only hope the day will come,
when you'll find me laughing in the sun
Until that day the fight goes on,
pretending to all, the monster is gone
Friday, 12 July 2013
When I look back I see a long road. It twists and turns with mountains and deep ravines. Some trials we could see on the horizon, others were thrown in our path just in front of us.
Many, many times the obstacles have looked so huge it seemed they would forever be in our way. Sometimes they have come one after the other so quickly, we hardly had time to catch our breath. It has been exhausting. At times Emily and I have hated each other. Two people hurting deeply, not always able to help the other but despite this we found our way. We learned to say sorry, we learned when to talk and when to stay silent, when to laugh and when to be serious. But most of all we learnt about each other.
So here we are. We have climbed, we have bridged and we have blasted our way through. Each obstacle overcome took strength, determination and courage.
We are now close to the top of one such mountain. Emily will do her first full week at school next week to prepare for the next term. She is excited and frightened, just like a normal teenager. But Emily will always be far from a normal teenager.
Yesterday she found a diary she wrote during her darkest times. She laughed about how ridiculous some of her comments were. She can not understand being in that place now. A blessing maybe, for I can remember everything.
We have travelled far, but there is still a way to go, but if we ever need proof of our ability to succeed, well, here it is.
Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Despite these acheivements there are always set backs and my inner demons gnaw at me. Sometimes the responsibility of going to work, running a home and being mum to 2 teenagers is more than I can bear. There is no downtime, no off switch, no time off. The kids seem to need me constantly and there is always a part of me that dreads this. I do not have a magic wand, I can not fix the world around them.
I did at least speak to Emily's father. I actually told him things face to face. I had to, I needed him to take some responsibility and I also needed to stop hiding and stop resenting. There is enough poison in my head without him in there too.
He does at least help with the midday school runs when I'm at work. We will always be poles apart and our roles very different but at least we can be civil again.
Very often I wonder if I would still be here if I had never had children. They are the only reason I am still dragging myself through this pitiful excuse for a life. I feel like I should be punished for wanting to give my life away when there are those out there who are ill and are fighting tooth and nail to hold on to their last breath. Those who have gone through terrible situations and hardship. I have faced none of that, pathetic really.
But for now what else can I do? Life goes on and so must I.
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
It's the school holidays and I am in York. We were here last August. I say we, but there were only three of us. At that time Emily was a resident in the mental health unit. She could have come with us but she couldn't, she was too ill.
I remember that holiday. We were only here for 3 days and crammed in as much as possible for the benefit of my boy. I bought annual tickets for the various attractions, which would admit 4 for the whole year. I told my son, who missed his sister, that the tickets were proof that Emily would return with us the following year. I said it, but I didn't actually believe it.
Last weekend I was ill, as in could barely walk. When it came to Monday, the day to get to the train station, I sat in my living room and sobbed. I cried because; I was tired, I felt ill, I was leaving my beloved animals but more so because, this time, Emily was coming with us. I just felt spent.
Why would that make me cry? Well the feelings were overwhelming, I never thought we really would get to this and it kept building up inside me.
It's not been easy on holiday. Emily switches into stroppy teen quite easily and it is difficult maintaining boundaries without squashing independence. At times she looks vulnerable and a moment later she is off out of sight. Managing her needs with everyone else's is exhausting. I am still feeling unwell and I will be glad to be home.
In the back of my mind I also remember that the first major signs of her illness manifested over Easter last year. Again that brings tears to my eyes. The year has been a very long one and yes, on the surface, it seems we have come a long way. In reality, the journey has only just got started.
As I retraced my steps around the beautiful Minster, I thought of the candle I lit for Emily and I almost wanted to light one for myself.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
There have been a few times when I've wanted to write a letter to my ex. I even came close to sending an email once. To be honest, it was filled with ranting and venom. Maybe what I felt, but as he considers me unbalanced and ridiculous, it would have only fueled the fire.
But I think it needs to be written, whether he will ever reads it remains undecided. So here goes.
When you met me I'd already been suffering from mental health problems and had a failed suicide attempt under my belt.
Although I didn't see it at the time, I was so desperate to belong somewhere and to someone that my history at the age of 20 was littered with big mistakes and complicated messes. Mostly as a result of trusting others over my own judgement.
And so, we met at work. I had just split up with my fiance and had to pull out of buying a house. Outwardly I displayed confidence and loved a laugh and a joke. In private I cried. I had come so close to leaving home and becoming my own person I couldn't let it go. I found a cheap flat for sale and went for it.
You flirted with me all the time. Married and 17 years older than me I wasn't really sure how I should respond. I thought it was a bit of office banter. I did like you, you made me laugh and work was a fun place to be.
One day you asked to meet me after work. My internal alarm bells were screaming, but I didn't like to offend you by saying no. How ridiculous does that sound? I should have said no. I knew it then, I know it now, but I just couldn't say it. That night you kissed me and I didn't know what to do.
You offered to come and help do jobs in my flat. It was in a bad state of repair and I did need help, but I should again have said no. There was only ever going to be one outcome to this. It was a car crash waiting to happen. You told me how you were unhappy at home and I could genuinely see this was true.
It wasn't long before sex came into the mix. All the time I knew this was wrong, but I didn't know what to do or how to stop it. You seemed to really care about me. I couldn't hurt you by turning you away.
Within weeks your wife discovered the affair and threw you out. When you arrived at my door, you told me you had nowhere to go.
What else could I do? My weakness had brought us to this place. I literally thought to myself 'I've made my bed, I need to lie in it' I let you in, along with panic and fear.
Don't get me wrong, I did care about you. You were my friend and I felt responsible for you.
In the months after we followed a frightening and very bumpy road. I feared every knock on the door and every letter the postman brought. A venomous wife, solicitors threats and disappointed families. Just writing this brings back the knot in my stomach and the tears to my eyes. Is there any wonder my mental health problems worsened? I was so scared, I felt sick all the time.
You cared about me, I think, and I cared about you. This mess was of my making and so it continued.
Was I in love? At the time I presumed I must be. So when you said it to me, I said it back. I guessed this was what it was about. Looking back I knew it still wasn't right. I couldn't watch romantic films or read happy relationship stories. Why? Because they weren't real. No one felt like that did they? If I had accepted that it was possible to feel so much for anyone, I would have to admit that I was unhappy and living a lie.
I was not strong enough to face that as it would have brought the awful reality sharply into focus.
Again, do not get me wrong, we settled into a routine and for the most part we were good friends. But intimacy was always a problem for me and this regularly became a source of major fall outs.
The years progressed. We bought a house and I suggested we got married. To me, it seemed the right thing to do, the expected thing. I don't remember much of that day, but I do remember crying and I do remember making an excuse not to be intimate. On that day and the days leading up to it the alarm bells rang again, they were muffled because I couldn't face the implications, but they were there all the same. I wonder, did you hear them too? I just kept thinking, this was obviously my life so get on with it.
The years moved on and produced two wonderful children. With the children came a worsening of my mental health. You did try to help me, but you tired of it. You are firmly from the 'pull yourself together' brigade. If I made you unhappy I am truly sorry. You could be cruel and thoughtless at times and you had no understanding of the hold my illness had on me. But think back on what I've written, is there any wonder my health suffered? Do we not both need to accept some responsibility here? I was unknowingly living a lie, were you?
You made me feel a failure for being ill. I didn't need your help with this, I could beat myself up all on my own.
Daily life was up and down. Arguments and tears, sometimes you took your frustrations with me out on the kids. Or that's what I thought you were doing. I've seen you hit my daughter so hard across her face that she was thrown off her feet. She was probably around 6 at the time. you shouted so loud at our even younger son, his eyes had the look of a frightened animal. I could never forgive these actions, but I do accept the blame.
As you know, I met the man I'm now with, over the internet. Despite what you might think it was innocent. We both moderated forums and all the moderators chatted on MSN. I needed friends to talk to, people, male and female, who didn't know my history, people who knew only what I told them.
My online friendships grew and it wasn't long before we talked about our lives. My new friends listened to me, but more importantly they comforted me in a way you never could.
One man in particular, 'A' stood out. His comments were funny but caring at the same time. He was easy to talk to and, as he lived outside the UK it seemed safe.
We worked together on quizzes for the forum and it was fun. You didn't like the time I spent online. You had always been possessive and stifling, I guess you felt out of the loop. The atmosphere at home got worse and as it did I turned more and more to my online life.
A was always there in the evenings and it wasn't long before I started talking about my situation.
The more we talked the more I was drawn to this caring man. We had never met but it showed me something. It showed me I could feel something. Something more than pain and unhappiness. You blamed A for breaking our marriage, but it was broken before it started. Do you not see it?
I admit I did start to feel something for this man I'd never met, it made me realise that there was more to this life than making do. He gave me the strength to look inside myself and do what I should have done 12 years before. I said no, no more.
I'm pretty sure I was making you unhappy, would you really have wanted that to continue? Was your fear of being alone worse than the misery of being locked in a shell of a marriage?
I told you I didn't want to be married anymore. It was horrible, you were devastated, despite being in the same book, you were several pages behind me.
You did and said some horrible and deeply hurtful things in the days and weeks that followed. At times I fought back, other times I sat in a heap and cried.
And then you turned your attention to A. This was all his fault after all. You told me to meet him and 'get it out of my system'
I did want to meet A, when I was free to, but I wasn't lurching from one man straight to another. How could I not want to eventually meet someone who had offered me something I felt I'd never had? I'm not talking about love or sex, I'm talking about a deep understanding of me, someone who had an amazing ability to make me feel better and give me hope when my life was in ruins. Can you understand that? You couldn't at the time. I guess your head was full of emotions and thinking about things logically didn't figure.
I couldn't make you understand that it wasn't about him, it was about me finally admitting what I'd known all along.
In the end I called your bluff, if that was what I needed to prove we were through.
A agreed to fly over. The confidence he showed behind the pc was missing when I met him at the airport. He was a very shy and nervous man. I did not fall instantly in love with him and I had no idea where the friendship would go, but I knew it would not change my need to be apart from you.
Despite your protests and plea's about our marriage it took only a couple of weeks for you to move on with another woman. While I moved out and rented with the kids, she pretty much set up home in my house. I didn't mind you moving on, but it was too quick and her spending so much time in my house was wrong. You even introduced her to our children before I knew you were seeing her. That was just nasty.
Since we split I have always tried to be fair. We shared our assets straight down the middle, we did our own divorce.
You moved on with your life and bought a new house.
I had to buy you out of the old house to get us out of a fix. I didn't want to come back here. I hate looking at the legacy you have left me, dodgy extensions and bad DIY. But you don't care do you? You were able to take the money and run.
I've lost count of the number of nights I've sat comforting your crying children. You'd caused those tears with selfishness and unkind words and acts. You put yourself and your new wife before your children and that will never be right. When A and I decided to move in together, I made it quite clear that the children will always be my priority. He accepts that. I have made so many excuses for you to those children, reassuring them that you do love them etc etc. What have you done for me? I understand you laugh about me to your wife, suggest I am a bad mother, say that I don't feed them properly.
When you had no job, I took no money from you for the children. Now you pay very little still and I let that happen because we can manage and I wouldn't want to cause you hardship. What do you do for me? You go on holiday every few months and brag about it. You don't take the kids though, you don't want them do you? You don't even consider them, because you do whatever pleases you whenever you want. But you can, because you have me here taking care of our children. I keep quiet, I will not use them to score points. I will not force them to come to your house so we can have a break. But the injustice eats away at me.
When you got married you decided to do it at Gretna Green and asked me if the kids would mind not being there. Your daughters biggest wish at the time was to be a bridesmaid. It's a no brainer really. You told me, as you were off on two weeks honeymoon straight away, if the kids wanted to go, I would have to take them. Words can not express how angry this made me. I took the kids and we had to stop over night too. I made a point of being at the ceremony, as you'd said I could be. To be honest the only reason I did it was to make you both feel as uncomfortable as possible. Petty and childish I know, but you should be able to relate to that? I had no choice but to bring them, how would they feel not being there?
When I got married last year, I was going to invite you out of duty to my children. I certainly didn't want you there picking fault with everything, your favourite pass time, but there I was again, trying to do the right thing.
You didn't even open the invitation, you left it behind, saying you were going on holiday. You never asked who would look after the kids on my wedding night, or who was having them while we had a honeymoon. You didn't care. I think this was the pivotal point in our relationship.
My poor mum had the kids as usual and due to Emily's illness we just spent 2 nights in a local hotel.
And now we come on to Emily herself.
Where were you when the bullying started?
Where were you when she sobbed every night?
Where were you when your son needed support?
Where were you when I had to fight to get them moved to another school?
Where were you when your daughter had a mental breakdown?
Where were you when she was admitted to a mental health unit?
Where were you when I needed a break?
Where are you now, when I'm desperately trying to juggle work with Emily's appointments and part time school hours?
You were probably on holiday or else in your own little world.
If I didn't have my elderly parents we would be sunk, we would not be able to manage at all. Did you know that, do you care?
Throughout Emily's illness we have had to stay strong. There have been so many times I thought we wouldn't make it. But we are inspite of your selfishness.
You think I've exaggerated Emily's situation. You've ignored me and gone behind my back, only to have the story confirmed by professionals.
You think I'm neurotic and something to be pitied. I now need to realise that your opinions do not matter.
You think I'm turning the kids against you the reality is they now see you for what you are as I no longer make excuses for you.
You think I'm a bad mother? I'm not perfect, but tell me, what would have happened if I wasn't here?
So why have I written this? Because for so long I have stayed silent so I don't upset the kids, but in the process the hurt and resentment has built into a monster. Better pray I never unleash it
Sunday, 10 March 2013
I have been proud to see how she has begun to do things outside her comfort zone (our house). In the last couple of weeks she's been shopping with my Mum, visited the nearby shopping centre with a friend and showed prospective adopters around on her own at the cat sanctuary where we volunteer.
These may seem like small things, but not to us. These are real achievements. In meetings with school she has now stopped mumbling and looking at the carpet and instead makes eye contact and is able to put her point of view across.
This is not the end of the road, but the ground seems to be levelling a little. I now need to learn more about dyslexia and different ways of learning. There is a lot of catching up to do if she is to stand a chance at GCSE's, but I know she is a bright girl and even if she has to do some exams at college later, she will get there in the end.
Recently she opened a teenager account with HSBC and we have agreed a clothing allowance. With an allowance and a debit card and is learning the value of things and how to budget. This is something else that is helping her to feel in control of her own life. I'd recommend it for every teen.
And me? Too many downs and not enough ups. Work has been terribly stressful. I've got to the point where I have been doing 12 hour days rather than the 7 hour days I should do. This has been a real problem and has been dragging me down. Whilst I only work 3 days a week, my other days are also frantic. When I'm not rushing around taking Emily to one of her lessons or appointments, I'm having to fit in meetings and general stuff like shopping and house work. My cats are a great love of mine, but they too create work for me. It very often feels that I am on an never ending treadmill. I'm sure everyone can relate to this. . Adding in my issues around my weight and at times I've wanted to give up.
It's easy to get caught up in your own problems, but just recently someone gave me a wake up call. Through Twitter I received a direct message. A woman of a similar age to me, who I have only ever exchanged 'tweets' with and do not know in the 'real' world, reached out. I do not want to go into her story here, it's not mine to tell, but I think she really needed someone to hear her.
I used my own experiences to help me try and understand. We have continued to message each other and through her, I realised that sometimes, when someone really needs you, a strength will take over. We can all try to make a difference to others. Those of us who understand what it is like to live part of our lives in darkness, in fear, in hopelessness, can help those who are there right now. Readers of my blog have done this for me, not only just by reading what I write, but by commenting too. Some of the supportive comments I have received have really helped and I cherish them.
Its made me want to turn my Twitter posts into something more. I want to try and make people think, to realise that they too can make a difference to others. We all stumble at times, when you are strong, help those who aren't.
Maybe 'Time to talk' should be 'Time to listen'